Eat, Pray, Move

A Pilot Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial of a Multilevel Church-Based Intervention to Address Obesity Among African Americans and Latinos

Published in: American Journal of Health Promotion, Volume 33, Issue 4, pages 586–596 (2019). doi: 10.1177/0890117118813333

Posted on RAND.org on April 28, 2020

by Kathryn Pitkin Derose, Malcolm V. Williams, Karen Rocío Flórez, Beth Ann Griffin, Denise Diaz Payan, Rachana Seelam, Cheryl Branch, Jennifer Hawes-Dawson, Michael Mata, Margaret D. Whitley, Eunice C. Wong

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Purpose

To implement a multilevel, church-based intervention with diverse disparity populations using community-based participatory research and evaluate feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary effectiveness in improving obesity-related outcomes.

Design

Cluster randomized controlled trial (pilot). Setting: Two midsized (∼200 adults) African American baptist and 2 very large (∼2000) Latino Catholic churches in South Los Angeles, California.

Participants

Adult (18+ years) congregants (n = 268 enrolled at baseline, ranging from 45 to 99 per church).

Intervention

Various components were implemented over 5 months and included 2 sermons by pastor, educational handouts, church vegetable and fruit gardens, cooking and nutrition classes, daily mobile messaging, community mapping of food and physical activity environments, and identification of congregational policy changes to increase healthy meals.

Measures

Outcomes included objectively measured body weight, body mass index (BMI), and systolic and diastolic blood pressure (BP), plus self-reported overall healthiness of diet and usual minutes spent in physical activity each week; control variables include sex, age, race–ethnicity, English proficiency, education, household income, and (for physical activity outcome) self-reported health status.

Analysis

Multivariate linear regression models estimated the average effect size of the intervention, controlling for pair fixed effects, a main effect of the intervention, and baseline values of the outcomes.

Results

Among those completing follow-up (68%), the intervention resulted in statistically significantly less weight gain and greater weight loss (–0.05 effect sizes; 95% confidence interval [CI] = –0.06 to –0.04), lower BMI (–0.08; 95% CI = –0.11 to –0.05), and healthier diet (–0.09; 95% CI = –0.17 to –0.00). There was no evidence of an intervention impact on BP or physical activity minutes per week.

Conclusion

Implementing a multilevel intervention across diverse congregations resulted in small improvements in obesity outcomes. A longer time line is needed to fully implement and assess effects of community and congregation environmental strategies and to allow for potential larger impacts of the intervention.

Research conducted by

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